State fire marshal advises caution with space heaters, other alternative heating this winter

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on January 28, 2015 with No Comments

Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson is advising caution with space heaters and other forms of alternative heating and a review of smoke alarms.

“Strongly consider other options before using alternative heating,” said Greeson. “Add insulation or other heat-capturing barriers to window and doors. Wearing warmer clothes and adding blankets will also help with comfort. If you must use space heaters or other forms of alternative heating, take precautions.”

The fire marshal oversees the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s (IDHS’s) Fire and Building Safety Division.

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Space heaters should always be kept away from loose or flammable objects such as clothing, curtains, bedding, and furniture. There should be at least a three-foot perimeter around space heaters at all times. Avoid using candles or appliances, such as a stove or oven, to heat the home.

Fireplaces should be regularly cleaned and inspected by a certified professional, such as a chimney sweep. Gas fireplaces should have properly working ventilation with a functioning carbon monoxide detector nearby.

“Creosote deposits build up quickly in chimneys and can easily catch fire,” said Greeson. “Keep anything flammable away from fireplaces, and use only paper or kindling to start a fire. Always have a fire extinguisher on hand in case the fire grows too large or out of control.”

Fires should always be extinguished and space heaters unplugged before going to bed or leaving the home for any period of time. Do not leave space heaters on in unoccupied rooms. In addition to safe heating, do not overload electrical outlets.

Fire Deaths and Smoke Alarms

“Last year we had more than 75 fire-related deaths, and in a lot of these cases there was not a working smoke alarm in the home. Smoke alarms are proven to save lives,” said Greeson.

“Test your smoke detector to make sure it works. Even if it responds correctly, if you don’t remember the last time you changed your batteries, do it today,” said Greeson. “If you don’t have a smoke detector, buy one and install it. If you don’t have the funds, contact your local fire department or social service agency to see if one can be provided.”

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Investigators from IDHS have responded to more than 300 fires in 2014. In more than half of those investigations, the location did not have smoke alarms nor had non-working smoke alarms.

Working smoke alarms are important to have year round, but especially in the winter months when alternative heating sources, such as space heaters and fire places, are used. Space heaters account for one-third of home heating fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Proper use of heating sources and working smoke alarms can be the difference between life and death, according to Greeson.

For more information on safe alternative heating safety, visit .

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